Power Ranking Top Pac-12 WRs Pre-2014 Spring Practice
Look around the 2014 rosters in the Pac-12, and a common trait is the presence of at least one standout wide receiver on every team. Parsing down the conference's receivers down to the best of the best is no easy task.
Among the class are burners, shifty playmakers, leapers and physical targets, all of whom can dictate how defenses are forced to cover the offense.
The combination of experienced quarterbacks and the nation's best collection of wide receivers promises to make 2014 a season of highlight-reel passing plays and big offensive numbers around the Pac-12.
The Pac-12's collective depth at wide receiver is too great to ignore. While the below players are not ranked in the top five before spring practices, any could emerge atop the conference over the course of the 2014 season.
Dres Anderson, Utah
Dres Anderson is the most explosive playmaker in Utah's offense, and last season he showed it with 1,002 receiving yards—more than double the output of the Utes' most productive pass-catcher.
Devon Cajuste, Stanford
An injury suffered midway through the season limited Stanford's big man, Devon Cajuste (6'4", 232 pounds), to just seven receptions in his final five appearances. Still, he made those limited opportunities count, hauling in grabs of 36, 51 and 78 yards.
Devin Fuller, UCLA
The one-time quarterback recruit Devin Fuller acclimated well to his role as a wideout last season. He was UCLA's No. 2 target in 2013, and with the departure of Shaquelle Evans, he should become the go-to guy for quarterback Brett Hundley.
Chris Harper, Cal
Chris Harper broke onto the Pac-12 scene with an impressive freshman campaign as the No. 2 target behind Keenan Allen. With Allen thriving in the NFL, Harper stepped up as the main man in head coach Sonny Dykes' Bear-Raid offense.
Gabe Marks, Washington State
Washington State's pass-happy air-raid offense featured numerous pass-catchers, but Gabe Marks stood head-and-shoulders above them all. His 74 receptions surpassed the next most productive receiving by 23, and his seven touchdowns tied for a team high. A misdemeanor arrest earlier this month does put a damper on Marks' offseason, however.
Jaydon Mickens, Washington
Jaydon Mickens was among the most reliable targets in a deep Washington passing attack. He caught multiple passes in 12 of the Huskies' 13 games and grabbed four or more in seven straight outings.
Richard Mullaney, Oregon State
The Robin to Biletnikoff Award-winning teammate Brandin Cooks' Batman, Richard Mullaney provided quarterback Sean Mannion with a dependable No. 2 option. Mullaney caught 52 passes for 788, actually surpassing Cooks in average yards per reception at 15.2 to 13.5.
Nate Phillips, Arizona
Nate Phillips earned Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-American recognition for leading Arizona with 696 yards on 51 receptions. Although small—he stands 5'7" and weighs 177 pounds—Phillips can pack a big punch, evident in his team-leading seven scoring grabs.
Kasen Williams, Washington
An injury slowed Kasen Williams, Washington's top receiver in 2012, for the last five games of 2013. Nevertheless, Williams gives the Huskies an athletic No. 1 option. He was a Washington state prep champion in the high jump per Maxpreps.com, and those springs serve him well in red-zone jump-ball situations.
5. Arizona WR Austin Hill
A torn ACL sidelined Austin Hill for the duration of the 2013 season, and his void was noticeable in Arizona's passing game.
His 1,364 yards in 2012 were more than the Wildcats' top two receivers caught for in 2013 combined, and only 172 fewer than last season's top three pass-catchers.
Hill was the Pac-12's second-most productive receiver in 2012, behind only USC's Marqise Lee in his record-setting campaign.
"He's 100 percent doing everything," he said. "And he actually looks bigger and stronger. He should have a big spring, and I know he's hungry to get out there too."
4. Oregon WR Bralon Addison
Speed and elusiveness in space are necessary ingredients of Oregon's potent offense. Bralon Addison has both qualities with plenty to spare, and in 2014, he will be the leader of the Ducks' passing attack.
Addison ranked eighth among all Pac-12 wide receivers in 2013 with 890 yards and sets the table for Oregon's offense as an electrifying returner.
"We take special teams very serious here," Addison told Comcast SportsNet. "I think that’s why this team is so successful, because we’re great on special teams.
Josh Huff's departure for the NFL has Addison primed to step in as the No. 1 target and produce huge numbers.
3. Stanford WR Ty Montgomery
Ty Montgomery has a unique ability to change the course of a game in one play. Just ask Washington, which was on the wrong end of a few momentum-swinging moments from Montgomery in its 31-28 loss to the Cardinal last October.
That night was Montgomery at his pass-catching and kick-returning best. He scored on a 39-yard reception, ran a kickoff back 99 yards to the end zone and set up another score on a 68-yard return.
There may not be a better combination receiver-returner in college football. But even if he's only judged on offense, Montgomery stands out among his Pac-12 peers.
Montgomery ranked third among all returning Pac-12 receivers with 958 yards in 2013. His explosiveness on special teams makes him doubly dangerous.
2. USC WR Nelson Agholor
Nelson Agholor was prepared for any role in USC's offense. In 2014, that means carrying the banner for great Trojans wide receivers, though it was a responsibility he accepted in 2013.
"I just want to do what the team wants me to do to win," he said after a win against Arizona last October, per USCTrojans.com. "If I was able to catch three passes, seven passes, it doesn't matter."
The Arizona game was Agholor's star turn. With 2012 All-American Marqise Lee sidelined with injury, Agholor had his best collegiate game to date: seven receptions for 161 yards and a touchdown.
He ended the season with a team-high 918 yards receiving.
With a combination of breakaway speed and uncanny athleticism, Agholor is set for big things as the undisputed No. 1 in the Trojans passing attack.
1. Arizona State WR Jaelen Strong
Arizona State head coach Todd Graham may not play football video games. However if he did, Jaelen Strong might be his prototype create-a-player at wide receiver.
Strong has every trait a coach could want in a game-changing wideout. He's big—6'4" and 205 pounds—he's fast and he can be physical.
"I told you watching his film that he was as good as I have seen on film at what he does," Graham said, according to the Sun Devils Athletics website, just two games into Strong's collegiate career.
Strong lived up to his lofty billing, finishing 2013 with 1,122 yards and seven games with at least 100 yards receiving. He likely would have registered even gaudier numbers had he not sustained an injury midway through the season.
With his health at 100 percent, Strong is primed for a huge encore campaign.
Kyle Kensing is the Pac-12 Lead Writer. Statistics compiled via CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted.